IMMvention was founded by pioneers in inflammasome research and is led by experienced management team, and R&D scientists with proven track record in inflammatory diseases, drug discovery and development 

Anil Goyal, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Goyal, has 24+ years of senior management and leadership experience at several public and private biotechnology companies where he has raised >$200M from public / private investors / federal sources, completed >$1B in pharma deals and accomplished several exits. Prior to joining IMMvention in 2017, he was COO at Ribometrix where he raised Ribometrix's first venture funding. His other biotech experience includes, leading company formation, fund raising,  business development,  M&A,  strategic planning, and senior management roles at Heat Biologics (HTBX), Serenex (led acquisition / sale to Pfizer), Optherion (led acquisition / sale to Sequenom and Baxter), Qualiber, Ascletis (public company on Hong Kong market) and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Takeda). He is currently a board member / advisor to Enzerna Biosciences, MimiVax and UNC-Chapel Hill KickStart Program. 

He has experience building and growing companies with small molecule, antibody, siRNA, gene and cell therapies across many therapeutic areas including immuno-oncology, ophthalmology, and inflammation.   

Dr. Goyal received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics jointly from Rutgers, The State University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He completed post-doctoral fellowships at the NJ Center for Agriculture & Environment and Merck & Co.

Fun Fact: Anil roved the World (pre-COVID) to find the hottest sauce for his collection.

Tom Barta, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Chemistry

Dr. Barta has proven track record as a computational medicinal chemist in Pharma and Biotech where he has designed and developed small molecule inhibitors for a number of proteins in diverse therapeutic areas. His 30+ years of experience include contributions to Pharmacia*, Serenex*, BioLeap, and other companies. Dr. Barta has been deeply involved in the medicinal chemistry of cyclooxygenase inhibitors (Celebrex), Matrix Metalloproteinase inhibitors, Heat Shock 90 modulators, and other targets.

* now Pfizer

 

Fun fact: Tom was one of about a dozen official photographers for Raleigh’s 2019 SPARKcon creativity festival, which featured dance, aerial, and fire-related performing arts.

Robert Junkins, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Dr. Junkins has 15+ years of research experience in the fields of innate immunology, cell biology and biochemistry. He completed his BSc (Hons) In Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.   He went on to receive postdoctoral training in Immunology and Genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill in the lab of Dr. Jenny Ting where he developed a deep expertise and keen interest in the inflammasome field, and where he was a key driver in the inception of IMMvention Therapeutix. Dr. Junkins has widely published in high profile scientific journals spanning multiple disciplines and is an inventor on multiple patents.

 

Fun fact: Outside of the lab, Rob can be found training for his next marathon, tackling endless DIY projects, or spending some quality time with his family.

Matthew Gallovic, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Matt Gallovic, Ph.D., has 10+ years of experience in drug delivery, formulation, analytics, and preclinical development of various therapeutic modalities. Matt has numerous peer-reviewed publications in high profile scientific journals. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on designing next-generation vaccines and immunomodulatory therapies from Ohio State University. He continued this work as a Post-Doc and Research Scientist in Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to his doctoral training, Matt gained experience in biopharma R&D at Baxter Healthcare.

 

Fun fact: As all native Clevelanders have, Matt has lived through many years of misery being an avid Cleveland sports fan, but was finally able to enjoy the Cavs’ 2016 championship run. He’s still holding out hope for the Indians and Browns.

Mark Reed
Research Associate

After receiving a Bachelors in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mark joined IMMvention Therapeutix as the first full-time employee and helped launch the company out of the university setting and onto the biotechnology scene.

 

Fun fact: During the summer of the COVID era, Mark grew and sported a concealed mustache underneath his mask.  

Team

 
 
J. David Becherer, Ph.D.
VP of Research and Development

Dr. Becherer, head of R&D at IMMvention, has 30 years of drug discovery experience in both large pharmaceutical (GSK) and venture-funded biotechnology companies (Viamet and Mitobridge). He brings to IMMvention a focused vision for novel and differentiated medicines.  During his career, Dr. Becherer has led scientific research teams towards their research and business goals and identified numerous novel small molecule and biological drug candidates.  He has worked on a variety of target classes across various therapeutic areas, including inflammation, cardio/metabolic, anti-viral, oncology, and diseases of aging. This work spans from early target ID and validation to lead optimization studies, including translational pharmacology, biomarker, and IND enabling safety studies.  

Early career achievements while at GSK include identifying and characterizing the TNF convertase (TACE) and related metalloproteinases.  This work resulted in the first testing in the clinic of a TACE inhibitor.  Other achievements at GSK include cross-functional leadership to advance preclinical assets through to the clinic: TGR5 agonist (phase 1/2a), SGLT2 inhibitor Remgoliflozin (phase 2 proof of concept), CCR5 antagonist (HIV phase 2 proof of concept), and HIV integrase inhibitor Tivicay.  More recently, he has identified preclinical candidates for enzymes involved in aldosterone synthesis, histone deacetylation, and pyridine nucleotide metabolism.

Dr. Becherer received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from University of California, San Diego and his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Basel and the Basel Institute for Immunology. His thesis work focused on the innate immune response, particularly the complement system, under the guidance of Dr. John Lambris. Post-doctoral studies were conducted at the Glaxo Research Institute and focused on the structure and functions of matrix metalloproteinases.  During his career, he has co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications and patents.

 

Fun Fact(s): Dave loves baseball and coached youth baseball, from T-ball to high school travel teams, for 20 years.  Now retired from the dugout,  Dave is happiest at the dinner table with his family or boating and wakeboarding with family and friends at area lakes.

 
Marilyn Thompson
VP of Finance

Marilyn Thompson is an experienced business development executive with over 25 years of experience in the biotech, pharma, medical device/software and 3D scanning sectors.

She has served as a Controller, Director of Finance, VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer with oversight of Accounting, Finance and administrative areas of business. She has extensive experience in new business and has served as a consultant to over 100 start-up companies.

 

Marilyn has managed millions of dollars in NIH and NSF funded grants and continues to consult with companies concerning grant funding. Ms. Thompson attended East Carolina University where she majored in Business with a degree in Accounting.

 
 
 
 

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